replacing our kayaks

-- Last Updated: Jun-22-13 9:25 AM EST --

We have had 2 Old Town Nantuckets,(14 ft 9 in, 26 wide, weight 61 lbs.) with rudders, for 15 years. They are heavy and we are looking at two other kayaks to replace them and reduce the weight by almost half. My husband is interested in the Stellar S16 touring kayak. I am more interested in the Santee Hurricane. (less $$) Currently we have a pulley system to raise up and store our kayaks, over the winter, in the garage. We would lower them on to the floor and then slide them onto our Saab roof rack. The Saab has been sold. We are considering a small trailer for my Buick, to keep them ready for the season (and the canoe!) or a new roof rack for the Accent. Not sure yet what we will do. My more important question is, on the water ( we don't focus all that much on speed) will I be able to tour comfortably next to my husband in light of the two different Kayaks, the Stella and the Hurricane? Will weight differences and lengths make all that much difference? I would like to make sure I have something I can manage alone. We have a set of little wheels if we need them to get the kayaks to the water but it's all the other lifting, etc., we want to make somewhat easier.He is worried about performance, effort, side by side. Thank you.

The Santee likely would be a bit slower (especially if you are looking at the Sanetee 116 instead of the Santee 135).

Stellar made in China
Stellar kayaks are made in China. I recently had a Point65N XP18 ( I too had considered the Stellar). To make a long story short, the quality was horrible and luckily I managed to get rid of it quickly. What do the Chinese know about kayaks anyways? You’re better off buying something from either NorthAmerica or Europe.

Tampico instead of Santee
You are on the right track. I think you need a different model.

There are two Hurricane Tampicos in the 140 series. 140 out (S and L) and both are 14 feet. The 140S is better equipped w. thigh braces and a lower backband Skills like edging, turning and bracing come a lot easier w. thigh braces for most folks. A low backband stays out of the way during rescues and contributes to a better forward stroke via greater torso rotation.

If you fit a 140S, or the older model 135S I encourage you to take either out for a demo. You can find any of them used for less than the cost of a new Santee.

Either 140 is nice and light at 41-42 lbs, the 135S lighter still at 38lbs and all will match up better w. a 16 ft seakayak at a modest/average pace.

Weight savings is an advantage not only horsing the boats on and off the car rack or trailer, but also pulling them to the water. A light boat on a cart is easier to pull than a heavy one, esp. if you make one trip by bringing all your gear, lunch, water etc in the boat cockpit.

On the water a lighter boat takes less effort to bring to speed and keep there. I have a strip built, fiberglass/carbon kayak at over 19 feet than weighs 28 lbs. And a kevlar glass kayak at 16’6" at 41 lbs. I expend a great deal less effort with either of them than paddling a couple of others at 48-50 lbs.

Fine if reflected in price …
… Taking any personal or political prejudices out of it, a boat made in a country with lower labor costs and less regulation should cost less than one made in place were either or both will add cost.

So for me, if I like the design and build of the boat, and how it handles, and it is made in China or Thailand, I would expect to pay less than the same quality of build but made in the UK or China. If it is of a cheaper build, it should cost even less.

Then it becomes about trade offs: savings vs. other factors.

Personally, I would never buy a Chinese or Thailand made boat if I could by a US, Canadian, or UK boat in the same price and quality range. If there is a fair price savings (the manufacturer is not gouging), I’d buy the Chinese boat if I liked it.

Big Difference Between Boats
There is a big difference between the two boats you are looking at. The Stellar is probably one of the faster 16 boats around while the Santee is going to be much slower to the same paddler. Unless you are a much stronger paddler, I envision problems with you keeping up with him.

Also has he test paddled an S16? The S16 is a few inches skinnier than your old kayaks and has a very rounded bottom. While it is not unstable it will be much tippier than your old kayak.

Stellar S16
I test paddled a Stellar S16 last Summer. Several things stuck in my mind, the price was good, lightweight, difficult to turn, poor fitting cockpit. So I would recommend test paddling it to make sure your happy with the design otherwise you wasted a lot of money. The Stellars have a Surf ski heritage.

Quality and fair price.
There still are some excellent boats built right here in America and the prices are very competitive–especially when you consider the quality. Three companies that I would look at are Current Designs, Eddyline and Novus Composites. There are more, but these are a very good place to start.

Which Santee? Day touring or camping?
You say you want to “tour.” The Santee is not a touring kayak. All of the Santees are recreational kayaks. Maybe you meant day touring?

Yes, there will be a performance difference between the two kayaks you’re looking at. They are completely different kayaks, intended for different paddlers and different bodies of water. I don’t think they make a good pair, especially for a male and female couple.

How did you settle on the Santee and the Stellar?

We can’t really advise you without more information. Info that would be useful:

Size of paddlers

Where you intend to paddle: size and type of bodies of water

Day touring or camping?